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Territory of Light

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  2,846 ratings  ·  465 reviews
Territory of Light is the luminous story of a young woman, living alone in Tokyo with her three-year-old daughter. Its twelve, stand-alone fragments follow the first year of her separation from her husband. The novel is full of light, sometimes comforting and sometimes dangerous: sunlight streaming through windows, dappled light in the park, distant fireworks, dazzling flo ...more
Paperback, 122 pages
Published April 5th 2018 by Penguin Classics (first published 1978)
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Average rating 3.61  · 
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Sep 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Mothering in Japan

Looking down at the stagnant green water, I could picture as in a dream or a film that spot as it had appeared back then, some fifteen years earlier: a spot clad in flowers and fruit trees, where the sunshine seemed to have congealed. It was bright and tranquil, disquietingly so. No one must ever know about this place that made me yearn to dissolve until I became a particle of light myself. The way that light cohered in one place was unearthly. I gazed at its stillness without
Jim Fonseca
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it

This is the story of the struggles of a single mother in Tokyo. (I have a single-mother shelf.) After she has separated from her husband (she wants a divorce) she chances upon an opportunity to rent the entire fourth floor of a small office building, all windows, that she often leaves wide open. Thus the tie-in with the title.

She has a 3-yeard-old daughter who loves to hang out at the unguarded windows and toss things on the single-story rooftops below. The mother has nightmar
Diane S ☔
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: lor-2019
A woman in Tokyo is left by her husband, alone she must raise her two year old daughter. There are twelve segments, and each covers a glimpse into their lives. They find an apartment, she still needs to work do her daughter attends daycare. We are privy to her personal thoughts as she draws us into their lives. She loses her temper, she gets depressed, wondering how she can go on, keep doing all she is doing. Her husband shows up at the unlikliest of times, though he is living with another woman ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, recs
A spare meditation on single motherhood, Territory of Light chronicles a year in the life of a woman living in Tokyo as she copes with her recent separation from her husband. The novella begins with the newly single woman and her young daughter moving into a top-floor apartment filled with light and the hope of a bright future, but things quickly dim. The unnamed woman’s daughter grows angry, her husband begins to stalk her, her job becomes too demanding. Told from the perspective of the protago ...more
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One spring, a young mother who has been left by her husband, Fujino (no first name given), starts again in a Tokyo apartment full of windows (thus the title), but she struggles and must come to terms with the past, and look forward to the future.

This is a story that first appeared as a magazine series in 1978-79. Neither the mother nor the daughter (who turns three during the book) are given names in the book. They spend a (view spoiler)
I enjoyed Territory of Light and found it sufficiently absorbing, but now I'm finding that I don't have a whole lot to say about it. It's a simple story about motherhood told from the perspective of a newly single woman coming to terms with the failure of her marriage - it's a quiet, meditative work that was originally published in Japanese in 1979, and while I felt that this story's cultural context was readily apparent as I was reading, it does have an introspective universality in its depicti ...more
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan, 2019-read
I was fascinated by this quietly told, subtle tale about control and the demand to function. When a young woman is left by her husband, she becomes the only provider for her 2-year-old daughter and has to juggle numerous, often contradictory expectations: She has to hold down her job at a library where she is expected to perform her tasks no matter what happens in her private life, she has to find her own way of being a single mother while defending herself against the ideas others - the employe ...more

3.5 Stars

Originally published in monthly installments in a literary Japanese magazine in the late 1970s, in twelve sections over the course of a year, Yuko Tsushima is considered one of the most noteworthy Japanese writers of her generation. The English translation is by Geraldine Harcourt.

”The apartment had windows on all sides.
“I spent a year there, with my little daughter, on the top floor of an old four-storey office building. We had the whole fourth floor to ourselve
A slim novel taking place over the course of a year and narrated by a recently separated mother who is struggling to adjust to solo parenting her adorably naughty three year old daughter. The writing in this caught my attention immediately, it is beautiful especially her descriptions of light. There is something very similar here to the way Robin Robertson writes about the play of light only in this book it is often full of colour. The images of the bright red kitchen floor, the silver painted r ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a quick translated work from Japan, about a woman who has separated from her husband and is trying to raise her child. A lot of focus is on the buildings where they live - the rooms, the light, the water, the sounds, the neighbors, the space, the tatami.
Inderjit Sanghera
May 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
'Territory of Light' primarily takes place in a small Tokyo apartment where the narrator's dark descent into mental instability contrasts with the constant flood of light which variably dazzle and disorientate the narrator and her young daughter.  Darkness and lightness eventually combined and coalesce as the narrator, at the height of an epiphany, seeks to dissolve into light, drowning her grief and solitude into the perpetual stream of sunlight;

"No one must ever know about this place that made
Sep 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This has been one of my favorite reads this year and can only give thanks to Geraldine Harcourt for such a lovely translation of Tsushima's wonderful novel. The book, originally released in the late 1970's as a twelve chapter serialization, recounts the actions, thoughts,and feelings of a young woman starting an independent life for her and her nearly three year old daughter during the initial year of a separation from her husband. Two things made this novel stand out. The first was Tsushima's o ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

So ähnlich hätte vielleicht Sylvia Plath die Trennung von Ted Hughes in Prosa beschrieben.
Aug 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, japón
Yuko Tsushima obtuvo el Premio Noma en 1978 con esta novela, en la que una mujer recién separada se muda con su hija a un piso con muchas ventanas, que se convertirá en su particular territorio de luz.

La historia consta de doce capítulos y fue originalmente publicada por entregas en una revista. Quizá, por ese motivo, me ha parecido que el ritmo es un poco lento. Cada episodio describe una vivencia de la protagonista y creo que algunos podrían situarse en un orden distinto, como sucede en alguna
This is a quiet, subtle piece of fine literature, but it just wasn't for me. I think this is one of the books you have to be in the right mood, moment or phase of your life in to fully cherish it. In my case, I couldn't really connect with it.

The unnamed narrator and her adorable young daughter start a life on their own after the seperation of their husband respective father. The story is told via twelve vignette-like chapters, which were originally published over the course of a year. I tried t
Justo Martiañez
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Primera incursión en la literatura japonesa, temía el choque cultural. No ha sido así, libro muy interesante, muy bien escrito y traducido. Japón, años 80, una madre se separa y se enfrenta a su nueva vida con una hija de 3 años. La narración comprende poco más de 1 año de esta nueva vida, repleta de aislamiento social, momentos de desesperación ante la dificultad de compaginar el trabajo y la crianza de su hija.
Toca fondo, sin dormir, agotada, no da abasto, su marido no la ayuda en nada, ni qu
Territory of Light is a short, intense book about one woman's first year after separating from her husband. It's a subtle book; Tsushima never explicitly tell us that the narrator is lonely, isolated, or depressed, but rather lets the reader witness her mental state as she struggles to raise her daughter without her husband. This story is beautiful and heartbreaking.

The territory of light from the title is the woman's new apartment, which is flooded with light from windows on all sides. Her youn
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
Territory of Light was originally published in the Japanese literary monthly magazine between 1978 and 1979 with each chapter marking the months in real time. It is now being published in English translation in one instalment of multiple chapters. It won the inaugural Noma Literary Prize and Tsushima subsequently won many awards in her career. She died in February 2016.

The novel tells the story of a young woman separating from her husband and setting up a new life in a Tokyo apartment with her t
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: japan, translations

“I was puzzled by how I had changed. But I could no longer go back...”

- from Territory of Light (Hikari no Ryobun) by Yuko Tsushima, translated by Geraldine Harcourt.

There is something insular and calming about the Japanese literature I have been exposed to. Tranquil, even as the lives lived may be anything but. And so it goes with this book, both calm and emotive at the same time. Perhaps it’s the first person perspective, the thoughts that are quiet but also deafening. The main protagonist is
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it
In Territory of Light, you follow the life of a young woman and her infant daughter, living in Tokyo during the 1970s through a series of fragments. These fragments are taken from the first year after her separation with her husband.

Territory of Light is filled with beautifully crafted descriptions of surroundings. Actually, the entire book is written in a brilliant way. I have come to really admire Yuko Tsushima’s gift for writing. Many of the things that are described in the most detail are v
4.5 stars. This began slowly for me. There was little to capture my attention in the first "chapter" (the novella collects 12 linked stories as a whole), which mostly attended to the narrator finding an apartment after a marital separation. But gradually the beauty of her poetic insight started to shine through quite literally as the novel plays with light and shadow and dreams and images as a reflection of the interior soul. As someone who was a single divorced mother for 9 years and started of ...more
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
tbh I would have filed for divorce a lot quicker and would have made him pay child support.
Dec 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Territory of Light is the story of a mother at a crossroads. She decides to separate from her husband, taking their daughter and move into a building that shares his last name. Their new apartment on the fourth floor of the building has amazing natural light, but there are challenges that come with living in it. The descriptions of the apartment and the rooftop were beautiful.

Having gone through a divorce there are many aspects of the story that I could relate to or understand: trying to find ti
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book about a mother with a young daughter (2 at the beginning of the book, 3 at the end) who is undergoing a separation/divorce from her husband told over the space of 12 months. The book was originally published in monthly installments in a literary periodical from 1978 to 1979, “each chapter marking the months in real time.” I really liked that aspect of the novel. She rents a 4th floor of a building that has a great deal of light showing through the windows and hence the name of ...more
Susan Kennedy
This story is about a woman who's husband leaves her. She is left to raise her child alone; mostly by her choice. She has chosen to raise her daughter and does not want her husband around. This is the first year of that separation as she tries to tend to herself and her daughter. She goes through ups and downs; mostly downs. There are times when she strikes out at her daughter becoming resentful at times of her. She leaves her home alone often and that was a bit disturbing to me. At other times ...more
This novel is really beautiful. The writing feels unlike any other Japanese novel I've read, and I think at least some of its grace should be attributed to the translation by Geraldine Harcourt. It's impossible for me to know how much of this style came from the original Japanese, but either way, I found it striking and unique in comparison to the other Japanese translations I've read.

I felt a creeping sense of dread throughout the course of the entire novel, while also truly rooting for the pro
Kasa Cotugno
Yuko Tsushima was an award winning author in Japan, who following her death in 2016 is experiencing a resurgence of popularity in translation. Territory of Light, written in 1979 when she was in her early 30's, is composed of a series comprising a novel which was published chapter by chapter over the course of a year. Each month she followed her unnamed narrator as she traversed the transition between marriage and single motherhood, forging an identity and living with her (also unnamed) 3-year-o ...more
Alex Pler
May 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"En aquel momento me pareció un descubrimiento que debía mantener en secreto. No debía hablarle a nadie de ese lugar en el que deseaba fundirme y convertirme yo también en una particular de luz."

Una visión poética y a ratos alucinógena de la nueva vida que empiezan una mujer recién separada y su hija en un pequeño piso en mitad de un Tokio demasiado grande.
Katie Lumsden
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this, though I also found it slightly mistifying. The examination of loneliness and the struggles of parenthood are done really well, but I could have done with a bit more plot movement.
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عن الانفصال و محاولة العيش في استقلال غير اختياري حدثتني يووقو

بطلة الكتاب -أم لطفلة في الثالثة- اختار زوجها دون الرجوع لرأيها أن ينفصلا، لتجد نفسها تعيش في شقة قديمة تلعب دور الأم و الأب في آن (زوجها لا يدفع أي إعانة مادية لابنته).إلى جانب تجاربها مع ابنتها و مشاكلها مع زوجها و ما تتعرض له من إحراج في العمل و محيطها المجتمعي تخبرنا الكاتبة عن ما تمر به البطلة من اشتياق لزوج لم تختر أن تنفصل عنه و لكنها ترفض في ذات الوقت العودة إليه -رغم محاولاته المتكررة في آخر قصتين أن يلم شمل العائلة من جديد-
Nouf Ali
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Nov 07, 2014
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
قرأت هذا الكتاب أول مرة عام ٢٠٠٥ وعدت اليوم لقراءته حين وقعت عليه يدي وأنا أبحث في مكتبتي عن كتاب من الكتب الكثيرة التي أبتاعها لتبتلعها رفوف مكتبتي المكتظة حتى أنسى وجودها تماماً . حين عثرت على هذا الكتاب لم أستطع تذكر تفاصيل القصص لكن شعورا غامضا استبد بي فاسترجعت تلك الحميمية التي نشأت بيني وبين بطلة هذا الكتاب. وقد كنت أيامها أعيش ظروفا شبيهة بظروفها.. تلك المرأة اليابانية كانت تنسج قصصها القصيرة من حكايا يومياتها العادية بتفاصيل لا تحاول تلوينها أو المبالغة فيها تفادياً لإلحاق الضجر بسعادة ...more
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Yūko Tsushima is the pen name of Satoko Tsushima, a contemporary Japanese fiction writer, essayist and critic. She is the daughter of famed novelist Osamu Dazai, who died when she was one year old. She is considered "one of the most important Japanese writers of her generation" (The New York Times).

She has won many major literary prizes, including the Kawabata for "The Silent Traders," one of the

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